Flight of the Albatross Part 2
Tuesday, January 31, 2006

See part one...then you'll know... :-)



Disclaimed in part 1

The night was alive with color and noise and the temperature was high. The air was permeated with the stench of un-bathed bodies and the decay of the refuse lined ally ways. People jostled by on their way to their own mischief and Mal felt the hair rise at the back of his neck.

There was nothing like a smoothly running plan to raise the hair on the back of Mal’s neck. Plans usually had a way of kicking him when he least expected it and for some reason the smoothness with which River’s plan was flowin’ made him all kinds of wary.

Their shuttle had docked a few minutes earlier and Kaylee and Jayne’d headed for the nearest parts dealer in hopes o’ finding a stabilizer that wouldn’t put too big a dint in what coin the ship had left.

Mal was a realist and he knew they couldn’t count on the take from Fanti and Mingo bein’ of use. If all else failed then they had orders to high tail it back to the ship and be ready to fly.

That was an eventuality that Mal really disliked. He wanted his ship in good workin’ order. Leavin’ with her still banged up wasn’t on Mal’s short list of things he wanted to have happen. If things went as smooth with Fanti and Mingo as they’d gone with the port authority coin wouldn’t be a problem.

They were almost to the Maidenhead when Mal felt the characteristic lightness that accompanied his pocket being emptied as a girl of eight brushed past him. She didn’t get far because Mal grabbed her up by the scruff of the neck and gave her a stern look. She just smiled unabashedly and handed his wallet back to him.

Mal shoved it into his pocket and held out his hand. The girl just stared at it and then looked at him questioningly.

“You an me both know the wallet weren’t the only thing you took and if you ain’t lookin’ to get turned over, you’ll be handin’ it over.” Mal told the girl who scrunched up her eyes and stuck out her tongue at him. She wriggled and twisted, but Mal wasn’t letting go. Finally, she dug a small silver object on a chain from some hidden place on her person and grudgingly put it into his hand.

“How’d you know?” Mal released her. “I ain’t never been caught before,” she bragged. “So how’d ya know what I done?”

Eyeing her critically, he shoved the cross back in his pocket. Then he took an object from his pocket and showed it to her. Her eyes widened and she tried to snatch it from him, but Mal put his hand on her shoulder to keep her at bay. “It’s a two way street, little one. You can take all ya want but if’n you can’t tell when you been took from you’ll be just another easy mark.”

Tossing the wad of stolen credits back at the girl he nodded a farewell. River was smirking at him behind her hair and he smiled suddenly happy. Then her eyes focused on the girl and became clouded. “Mother died. Father’s gone, just walked away. Brother is her only home. Aunt on Persephone…Poor. Wish they could fly away. He works when he can, but it’s never enough. She steals. He wishes she didn’t have to, but their hungry. Desperate.” Then her eyes cleared and she smiled at Mal. “You’re a good man.”

It had been a half formed thought, born of understanding the words she’d plucked from the young girls mind. Just a fleeting thought that maybe he could help them and she’d picked it from his brain like a cherry from sugar cream. “Don’t go believin’ everything you find up there, little one. I stopped bein’ a good man a long time ago.”

“No you didn’t. You buried him. Buried him under the bodies scattered in the valley, but you never left him. Like the others he’s still there in your mind and you torture yourself with them. You use who he was and how you changed to find the cracks and make you less, but he’s alive and you changed.” She told him solemnly as she turned to continue their journey to The Maidenhead. “Still good.”

* * * *

When they reached the Maidenhead Mal leaned casually against the wall, while River slunk down the ally way and placed the disrupter on the receptor line for the Maidenhead’s dedicated source box. When she finished she made her way back to Mal.

“Ready to go to work, darlin’,” he asked as he opened the door and motioned her through.

“This isn’t work,” she said as she brushed past him. “This is when we have fun.”

* * * *

To say that Fanti and Mingo were surprised to see Mal would be an understatement and to say that they nearly pissed their gorram pants at the sight of River was purely fact. The twins who’d always looked to Mal like gorram fashion plates looked positively tatty now.

Their usually flashy dress and demeanor had suffered from their meeting with the Alliance’s operative. Both looked to be still healing from whatever tortures were visited upon them and that was what stuck in Mal’s craw more than anything. The fact that these two fie-fie pi yan would live to see another day whilst countless innocent lives had paid for that day sent Mal to the brink of a very dark place. A place he’d never hoped to see again.

The bar was still humping and there was music being piped in from behind the bar. The Cortex monitors were black and the lighting was an odd mixture of light and shadow. They’d found the brothers in their usual table. River stood slightly apart from Mal, her hand resting on the modified Desert Eagle holstered to her hip. Fanti’s eyes were drawn to the way she lovingly caressed the grip.

The Laser sighted semi-automatic was a work of art and looked sexy as hell strapped to her thigh. The gun had a laser assisted direct impingement that cycled the rounds and unlike its Earth-that-was forrunner didn’t foul the breech as quickly.

It was one of Zoe’s favorite weapon’s but she’d given it to River before they left Serenity and told her if she wanted it she could keep it. River had teared up and so had Zoe and if Jayne hadn’t been jealously whining about letting the crazy girl have a gun, he might have been near tears, too.

Mal was fasinated by the way she unnerved the twins, who couldn’t decide if she was the most intriguing woman they had ever seen or simply the most deadly. Mal personally thought she was the most beautifully lethal woman he’d ever laid eyes on. Some men would have been just as unnerved by her as the twins, but Mal knew that even though she knew nigh unto, nine-hundred-sevent-eight different ways to put an end to a man he was safe with her.

“More like two thousand and six, Captain.” River’s eyes twinkled as Mal’s gaze whipped to hers and she noticed the grudging respect that momentarily paled his skin.

Confused and nervously glancing back and forth between them Fanti asked, “Two thousand six what?”

Mal turned his eyes feral as he took in the discomforted twins. “Why, two thousand six ways to put an end to lowlife yanse lang like the two of you.”

Mingo blanched at Mal’s words and Fanti shifted forward and almost imperceptibly made eye contact with someone across the room. The slight hitch up in the tension in the bar was almost a living thing, but Mal didn’t bother with the men across the room that was River’s job. No, he was focused with ominous intent on the two before him.

“Seems to me we got a might distracted from our negotiatin’ what your fair cut should be.” He glanced at River who sheepishly acknowledged her part in that debacle. “I seem to remember lookin’ up to find the back o’ the two of you makin’ off with the take.”

Mingo flashed an amiable smile at Mal. “Mal you know it wasn’t a deliberate slight.” He glanced at his twin. “Fanti and me couldn’t be sure your friend there wasn’t here to pinch it.”

“We were just keeping it safe you might say.” Fanti said with a calculating smile.

“Well, now that was right neighborly of ya.” He glanced questioningly at River, “Didn’t you think that was neighborly?”

“The epitome, Sir,” River said briefly channeling Zoe, “If it were the truth.”

“Surely you don’t mean to say that Fanti and Mingo would lie to me?” Mal said as he turned a measuring gaze on the two men. “Fanti, tell me it isn’t so.” Mal’s voice dripped sarcasm from every syllable.

“Sides of which we had a fair amount of damage to make right after your last visit.”

“Yeah, I noticed you had some decoratin’ done.” Mal said as he eyed the bar critically. “Can’t say as there’s much improved.”

Ignoring the slight, Fanti sat straighter and eyed Mal with rising discontent. “You brought Allaince hundai into our club.” He glanced at Mingo and then back to Mal. “Mingo and me we were under their radar.”

“Not even a blip you might say.” Mingo added.

“Funny you should bring that up,” Mal said standing straighter. He brushed his coattail behind his holster and gripped his gun belt with whitened knuckles. “Seems someone dropped a dime or two on a fair few of our friends and heaped a whole bunch o’ death at our door.”

“Tragic,” Fanti intoned.

“What might that have to do with us?” Mingo asked.

“There were only a few people that know’d where we were like to be layin’ low.” Mal said as his fingers tightened around the warm leather of his belt. “Those on my ship, them what gave us safe harbor and them that was like to hire us.”

River moved to stand closer to the table, her gaze boring into Mingo’s suddenly troubled eyes. When she smiled a knowing smile at Mingo he flinched. “Most of them are dead now.” She said in her eerie sing-song voice. “Blood on your hands.”

The man paled at her odd words. His eyes flew to Mal and his mouth engaged before he thought better of what it started to say. “They would have killed us if we didn’t tell them where you might be headed.” His eyes dimmed and became troubled as though remembering a horrible nightmare. “They were threatening Fanti. I had to tell them about Sanchez and Haven…” His eyes bulged when he realized what he’d just admitted.

Mal’s fierce gaze narrowed and he moved a fraction closer causing the man to shrink back and his brother to move forward in a vain attempt to deflect attention to himself.

“What’s done is done.” Fanti reasoned. “I’ll have my man get you your money so you can be on your way.” The man had barely motioned with his hand, but the action set in motion a flurry of activity from River’s little corner of the room. Fanti sat with a look of utter horror on his face as he stared at the two-inch blade protruding from his left hand.

For his part Mal was just as shocked. He hadn’t known she was carrying the tiny throwing knives he’d gotten for Zoe a few years back. She’d moved so fast that even Mal hadn’t seen her hand reach for her gun, which she aimed at a man behind them or hurl the blade with frightening accuracy all without taking her eyes off Mingo.

Mingo was sweating and the stink of fear was sharp on him as he tried to get as far from the table as he could.

“Don’t worry,” Mal told them with an irascible roughness to his words. “We just came to get what’s ours and make sure you understand that no matter what the Allaince threatens you with, it won’t compare to what we visit on ya if you cross us again.”

As though to punctuate his words, River’s Desert Eagle discharged and to his credit Mal didn’t flinch, outwardly at least. He heard a pained groan at the back of the bar. He figured she’d hit what she was aimin’ for, because he was sure if’n she’d meant to kill him, the man would have been layin’ dead without a sound.

“That was a warning!” River called over her shoulder, her eyes still locked on Mingo. “The next one will be through that empty space some people might call a brain.”

“She’s unnatural…” Mingo muttered over his brother’s whimpers.

“That’s the popular theory,” Mal said as he slowly limbered his weapon and leveled it at the cowering man. “But I think you ain’t one to be castin’ stones. Now, you are goin’ to stand up and we’re goin’ to take a walk through that fancy hidden wall so’s you can empty your safe.”

Turning to River he gave her a smile, which she returned. “Remember darlin’ we ain’t here to be killin’, but that bein’ said you do what needs done.”

“Don’t worry, Captain.” River said, “We’re just one big happy family. Ain’t that right boys?” When she didn’t get a response she flicked her thumb over the safety and it was a click heard ‘round the room garnering all manner of mumbled and panicked agreement.

* * * *

Mingo was a jittery son of a whore. So, it took him a few tries to key in the proper code that opened the vault. When Mal saw the bag from the trade station job hadn’t even been emptied he smiled.

“It was mighty considerate of ya to keep it all in one place for us.” Mal said as he checked the contents. “Now load what’s left into this here bag and make it quick.” When Mingo had emptied the vault into the bag, he handed the heavy bag to Mal.

Hitching the bag onto his shoulder, Mal reached into his pocket and pulled out the silver chain letting the cross dangle from his hand. For a moment he didn’t speak, he just watched the pendulum swing of it as he thought of the man to whom it once belonged.

“You bought your life with the blood of children. With innocent men and women and their death is a stink on you that won’t wash off. This belonged to a man that gave me somethin’ I thought was lost.” Mal’s fierce gaze met Mingo’s and he extended the cross to the twitchy man, his eyes daring Mingo to take it from him.

Mingo tentatively reached out with his right hand to grasp the swinging cross. Mal moved swiftly grasping his wrist in a tight grip and pinning the man’s hand to the door of the vault. Dangling the cross centimeters from Mingo’s suddenly frightened gaze.

“I thought long and hard on what would be a just punishment for the innocent lives you traded on. At first I couldn’t see past the need to put you down like a broke-legged horse, but then I remembered me a verse from the good book about turnin’ the other cheek.”

Mal flipped the chain, reeling in the cross. Closing his fist around the top leaving an inch or so exposed. “I’m fairly certain that means I should forgive you, but bein’ that you had a hand in killin’ the only man that could have explained it to me…” Mal lashed out, driving the silver cross deep into the center of Mingo’s palm.

Ignoring the pained scream, Mal pushed the cross deeper, ignoring that it was fast becoming slippery with the other man’s blood. When he’d embedded it up to the cross bar, he untwined the chain from his own hand and wrapped it around Mingo’s. “You might want to start prayin’ you never cross me again. ‘Cause like River said there’s a fair few ways to kill ya and I’m sure she knows more ‘en that to just make a man hurt.”

Picking up the heavier trade station bag Mal headed out of the room at the opening to the bar he turned and called back, “Don’t call us…We won’t call you.”

* * * *

When they left the Maidenhead River retrieved her disrupter and they began walking. River in front and Mal behind her, lugging the bags of money when she turned down an ally that bisected the main street Mal began to worry.

“You sure you know where you’re headin’ darlin’?” Mal called.

“Of course,” she answered as she stopped in front of a dented metal crate where she squatted down. Mal looked around nervously, but he trusted River so he just held his tongue.

After a few moments Mal watched as the young girl from earlier crawled from the makeshift shelter and was then followed out by an older boy who looked to be about thirteen.

“You got back what I took!” The girl told Mal defiantly, crossing her arms over her chest. “Don’t go lyin’ sayin I didn’t give it to ya.”

“Got no intentions on lyin’, little one.” Mal told her his eyes sparkling at her feisty demeanor. “River here says ya’ll got a need.” He gestured to River and the boy eyed them both warily. “So, I have a deal to strike with you both. I’m needed some general repairs and cleanin’ done on my boat.” He tossed the smaller bag of money to the boy. “You have a desire to leave this sweaty scrape of nothin’ you’re welcome to hitch to Persephone and that there is your cut from the job we just done.”

“We ain’t for sale!” The boy snarled, “I aught to kill ya for even sayin’ such in front o’ my sis!”

Confused Mal looked to River and she turned distant eyes on Mal before speaking. “Thinks its bait. Thinks you want to…” she blushed and dropped her eyes to the boy. “You don’t have to be afraid, Nate. Captain Reynolds isn’t a slaver. He wants to help ya get to your aunt on Persephone. Wants to give you money earned by men that hurt folk he cared for.”

“Why should I believe you?” Nate asked defiantly.

“Because I know what will happen if you stay here.” She whispered and a single tear slipped from her lashes. “Horrible, more than you can imagine. They’ll take her and cut her and you won’t be there to pick up the broken pieces. Tried twice already. You fought them off. Tricked them. Very brave.”

Suddenly River began to tremble her eyes were stricken when they met his. “Time to go, Mal.” Without waiting for him to respond, she turned on trembling legs and stumbled from the ally. Mal watched her go, afraid she’d pushed herself too far this evening. Glancing back at the boy, he measured him up.

“The money is yours whether you fly with us or not, but I have to warn you that River ain’t never been wrong yet.” Mal shifted his heavy load further onto his shoulder and headed out of the main road. “My ship’s name is Serenity and our shuttle is on pad I-42, but from how River just hot footed it we won’t be there much longer.”

With that Mal turned and followed River at a quick pace. He didn’t look back to see if the boy and his sister were following, but he felt sure that they were.


Tuesday, January 31, 2006 3:56 PM


Another excellent one!

I liek it how it continues the story, but like the series they both really have their own stories...

yet again, worht every word

Tuesday, January 31, 2006 9:14 PM


Yes, I like longer chapters as well, however this is a work in progress and I have been working on it for a while. The next part should be fairly long, but not like the first part.

I am glad you like the fic and sent SHINY!


Tuesday, January 31, 2006 9:16 PM


Zmann966 Tuesday, January 31, 2006 - 15:56
Another excellent one!

I liek it how it continues the story, but like the series they both really have their own stories...

yet again, worht every word***

Thanks, I am glad you like it and it is a very nice complement that you think it was worth the time to read it.


Tuesday, January 31, 2006 9:22 PM


****I love how you put your ideas in motion. The characters are completly believeable and the plot is intriging. Keep going!****

Thanks, I always worry that I might not be getting my ideas across in any viable way. I love Mal, River, Zoe and Serenity and even Jayne(whom we can always count on to say the absolutly wrong, but oh, So, hi-larious thing)...I just tolerat the others because they help move the plot along.

If I quit writing this one my beta would hunt me down and (what was the phrase she used? Oh, yes!) Being attacked by reavers would look like a walk in the gorram park compared to the things she'd do to me. *waves cheerily at Gwen*


Wednesday, February 1, 2006 9:55 AM


Brilliant, was all kinds of disappointed this part was so SHORT. You got me quickly addicted to novel length chapters with the first part! Absolutely adoring this story and can't wait for more. Wonderful! Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Wednesday, February 1, 2006 10:01 AM


****Had a little family feel between them, which was a very interasting perceptive. And could defently see Zoe being one of the first to reason thru seeing River do that and just accept her as another warrior woman(soldier). I think that would be a interasting relationship that few fan fics touch on. Zoe sorta taking on a more mentoring role for River like she most likely did for young women in the war. Anyways look foward to more hope we don't have to wait to long.****

Thanks for posting again...I am always very interested in what about a story touched the reader.

I always thought that the relationship between Mal and Zoe was a very close one and I liked the idea of non-sexual love between them.

I am glad you picked up on the idea that Zoe has a maternal/mentor/warrior in arms relationship growing with River. I think that as live continues on the three will become far more integral to each other...also...there is a rough patch directly ahead and I think Zoe is going to have to do some a$$ kicking...Mal's and River's and then do some mending of bonds.

Yes, this is going to continue until either the muse or I die...or the story finishes...I think I said this is a slow burner fic and I don't even think I am half way yet.

Thanks for the SHINY!


Wednesday, February 1, 2006 10:20 AM


****Brilliant, was all kinds of disappointed this part was so SHORT. You got me quickly addicted to novel length chapters with the first part! Absolutely adoring this story and can't wait for more. Wonderful! Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me****

I know I was writing for a while on the first section and the second section is just because it got so long...I was getting complaints about the length on my LJ so I started posting small chunks instead...The next part is going to be longer...the angst starts here and I hate cliffy angst so i won't post until the angst is over and done with...


Thursday, February 2, 2006 5:01 AM


You are officially my Mal/River Goddess, lol, and while I don't share your eye bleeding problem over most other ships, lol. I do share your unease over any Mal/Inara loving. I hope more than anything that you'll continue this story because there aren't that many out there and I need my Mal/River fix.


Thursday, February 2, 2006 9:50 AM


Oh, I'm continuing all right. I am working the chapters so they are longer...I like long chapters and it is so darned hard to find really long Mal/River fics.

Was up until three again this morning getting some plot twists set up...the next part should post around Sunday...or Monday...My beta is going on vacay...

I'm the godess...hmmm....I like that! Thanks! I always love a bit-o'-SHINY.


Saturday, February 11, 2006 1:27 PM


goddess!!!! *grovels at obsidianagirl's feet*



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